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Year 3 - n.3 - March 2003

 

 

19TH MARCH  SAINT JOSEPH'S DAY

 

 

Christi autem generatio sic erat.

Cum esset desponsata mater eius Maria Ioseph, antequam convenirent, inventa est in utero habens de Spiritu sancto. Ioseph autem vir eius cum esset iustus, et nollet eam traducere, voluit occulte dimittere eam. Hec autem eo cogitante, ecce angelus Domini apparuit in somnis ei, dicens: Ioseph fili David, noli timere accipere Mariam coniugem tuam: quod enim in ea natum est, de Spiritu sancto est. Pariet autem filium: et vocabis nomen eius Iesum: ipse enim salvum faciet populum suum a peccatis eorum. Hoc autem totum factum est, ut adimpleretur quod dictum est a Domino per prophetam dicentem: ecce virgo in utero habebit, et pariet filium: et vocabunt nomen eius Emmanuel, quod est iterpretatum Nobiscum Deus.

 

 Exurgens autem Ioseph a somno, fecit sicut praecepit ei angelus Domini, et accepit coniugem suam. Et non cognoscebat eam donec peperit filium suum primogenitum: et vocavit nomen eius Iesum.

(Matth. 1, 18-25)

  Qui cum recessissent, ecce angelus Domini apparuit in somnis Ioseph, dicens: Surge, et accipe puerum, et matrem eius, et fuge in Aegyptum, et esto in ibi usque dum dicam tibi. Futurum est enim ut Herodes quaerat puerum ut ad perdendum eum. Qui consurgens accepit puerum et matrem eius nocte, et secessit in Aegyptum: et erat ibi usque ad obitum Herodis: ut adimplretur quod dictum est a Domino per prophetam dicentem: Ex Aegypto vocavi filium meum.

[...]

Defuncto autem Herode, ecce angelus Domini apparuit in somnis Ioseph in Aegypto, dicens: Surge, et accipe puerum, et matrem eius, et vade in terram Israel: defuncti sunt enim qui quarebant animam pueri.  Qui consurgens accepit puerum et matrem eius et venit in terram Israel. Audiens autem quod Archelaus regnaret in Iudaea pro Herode patre suo, timuit illo ire: et admonitus in somnis, secessit in partes Galilaeae. Et veniens habitavit in civitate quae vocatur Nazareth: ut adimpleretur quod dictum est per prophetas: Quoniam Nazaraeus vocabitur.

(Matth. 2, 12-15 e 19-23)

Puer autem crescebat, et confortabatur plenus sapientia: et gratia Dei erat in illo.

Et ibant parentes eius per omnes annos in Ierusalem, in die solemni Paschae. et cum factus esset annorum duodecim, ascendentibus illis Ierosolymam secundum consuetudinem diei fasti, consummatisque diebus, cum redirent, remansit puer Iesus in Ierusalem, et non cognoverunt parentes eius. Existimantes autem illum esse in comitatu, venerunt iter diei, et requirebant eum inter cognatos et notos.

Et non invenientes, regressi sunt in Ierusalem, requirentes eum. Et factum est, post triduum invenerunt illum in templo sedentem in medio doctorum, audientem illos et interrogantem eos. Stupebant autem omnes qui eum audiebant, super prudentia et responsis eius. Et videntes admirati sunt. Et dixit mater eius ad illum: Fili, quid fecist nobis sic? Ecce pater tuus et ego dolentes quaerebamus te. Et ait ad illos: Quid est quod quaerebatis? Nesciebatis quia in his quae patris mei sunt oportet me esse? Et ipsi non intellexerunt verbum quod locutus est ad eos. Et descendit cum eis, et venit Nazareth: et erat subditus illis. Et mater eius conservabat omnia verba haec in corde suo. Et Iesus proficiebat sapientia, et aetate, et gratia apud Deum et homines.

(Luc. 2, 40-52)

This is how the birth of Jesus Christ
happened

His mother Mary was pledged to Joseph, but before they came to live together, she was found to be with child through the Holy Spirit. As Joseph her husband was a righteous man and did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly.
But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, "Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you will give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins." All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet:"The virgin will conceive a child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Emmanuel" -which means, "God with us."When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife. But he had no union with her. Finally she gave birth to a son. And he gave him the name Jesus.


When the Magi had gone away, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream. "Get up," he said, "take the child and his mother and escape to Egypt. Stay there until I tell you, because Herod is going to look for the child to kill him." So he got up, took the child and his mother during the night and left for Egypt, where he stayed until the death of Herod. And so it was fulfilled what the Lord had said through the prophet: "From Egypt I called my son."

 
After Herod died, an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt and said, "Get up, take the child and his mother and go to the land of Israel, those who were trying to kill the child are dead."
So he got up, took the child and his mother and went to the land of Israel. But when he heard that Archelaus was reigning in Judea in place of his father Herod, he was afraid to go there. Having been warned in a dream, he went to the district of Galilee, and he lived in a town called Nazareth. So it was fulfilled what was said through the prophets: "He will be called a Nazarene."

And the child grew and became strong; he was filled with wisdom, and the grace of God was upon him.
 
Every year his parents went to Jerusalem for the Celebration of Easter. When he was twelve years old, they went to the Feast, according to the custom. After the Feast was over, while his parents were coming back home, the boy Jesus remained in Jerusalem, but they were unaware of it. Thinking he was in their company, they travelled on for a day. Then they began looking for him among their relatives and friends. When they did not find him, they went back to Jerusalem to look for him. After three days they found him in the temple, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions. Everyone who heard him was amazed at his understanding and his answers. When his parents saw him, they were astonished. His mother said to him, "Son, why have you treated us like this? Your father and I have been anxiously searching for you."
"Why were you searching for me?" he asked. "Didn't you know I had to be in my Father's house?" But they did not understand what he was saying to them.
Then he came back to Nazareth with them and was obedient to them. But his mother treasured all these things in her heart. And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature in favor with God and men.

The day dedicated to St. Joseph has to be remembered among the most important celebrations, because he was the man who took care Jesus's and Mary's life : Catholic Church considers him "the first among the saints", giving him a worship that is called protodulža (from the Greek protos "first"and dulža, worship of veneration to the Saints, different by the latrža that is the adoration made only to God). Before the Italian Government abolished Saint Joseph's celebration for miserable economic reasons, this feast, maybe the most known and the nicest among people, prepared the coming of the spring. The fair, where the fathers went with their children, was the visible sign that each of them wanted to identify themself with Saint Joseph, "the first among the saints" because he is "the first among the fathers". 

From the texts of the Gospel that we have quoted, Saint Joseph's figure stands out, a man who has cancelled from his heart pride and prejudice and he is absorbed in the discharge of a duty that only a just man can understand: any adult person in front of a baby must feel father; and the Gospel calls Joseph "just man" that in the scriptural language has got a meaning stronger.

A good etymology, that maybe it is not scientific, but it is surely fascinating (one day, dear reader, I will have to explain you the difference between scientific etimology and popular etimology) compares three Latin words: pater, pasco, panis. According to this etymology, then, the pa-ter (father) is who pa-sce (feed) his children, giving them some pa-nis (bread. When the etymology is popular, generally it is not true, but it is good and true; it is true in a deeper meaning than the arid thruth that offers us the science (and whose our intellectual life needs).

So, the title "putative" that is given to the father, when we speak about Saint Joseph, is limiting, or even unjust: "putative father" is considered a father, without to be it really.

Now, this adjective that is burn from the legitim preoccupation to insist on Mary's virginity, is not adapt to Joseph, who, if he was not father in the flesh, he was really Jesus's father in the spirit, because he accepted him and protected him with love, watching over the fragile existence of the Divine Child, making possible His saving mission.

Actually, Mary, who knows more than others, tells Jesus: "Your father and I". Jesus, even if underlines that He has got another Father in the sky and has got a special realtionship with Him (He will always say:" My father and your Father") and must fulfil His will, does not deny this human paternity, but on the contrary, the Gospel says: "He was subjected to his parents".

Maybe, dear reader, when you put on the crib and put the earthen statuette that represents the first among the saints near Child's cradle, you don't think about it, but the tremor of the emotion, that you fell, indicates it. I am enough pleased of my effort to make words, if they are able to give voice to your deeper feeling. 

I dedicate this short article to Don Giuseppe Rassello's memory; he was parson in the Church of Santa Maria of the Sanitŗ in Naples and was teacher of Religion in the Liceo "Antonio Genovesi". He was really father for all young people who rescued from the culture of the death and giving back them to the cult of the life. I suggest you, dear reader, an interesting book, written by Don Giuseppe, who was a devote man of human arts and indefatigable researcher of country memories, its title is "San Severo fuori le mura" (Naples 1985).

 
Italo Sarcone